Building Scenic Pieces for The Quiet Man: 1

In the last post I hinted at the solution that I came up with for building the remaining (those that I didn’t have to cut) scenic elements for my design for The Quiet Man for Winterset Stage.  The challenges include having no available shop, having the work-space only available for 2 weeks prior to opening, the lack of  a Winterset lumber yard, the resulting $70-$90 per delivery fee and the 80-mile round-trip commute between my house and Winterset.

My solution was to construct the scenery in my 2-car garage.  It is not as bad as it sounds.  My garage as a result of my  nearly 30 years in the industry and remodeling 5 different homes is endowed with nearly any tool that I could possibly need. The only commute involved is the 8 feet between my coffee maker and the garage door.  The plan was simple.  I would create a list of materials and supplies needed to construct one or more of the units.  After dropping my son off at his high school, I would drive to the local big box store (In my case Menards) and pick up the supplies with my Pontiac Vibe which has a remarkable potential for hauling.

Building the Bookcase & Hutch

Monday:  April 30:

Using the orthographic drawings that I had already drawn (shown below)  as a guide, I created a cut list.  then I expanded that cut list into a list of the materials that I would buy.

This included:

  • 10 – 2x12x6
  • 10 – 1x4x6
  • 1 – 2x4x8
  • 1 – 1x6x6
  • 1 – 1x8x4
  • 1 sheet of lauan
  • 1 sheet of 3/4″ ply

After a morning meeting with the director of the project in Indianola (a 12-mile drive), I returned to the Des Moines Menards building supplies store to purchase the first load of lumber.  The total for this came to $138.06.  I elected to purchase much of the material in 6′ lengths so that much of it would fit within my Vibe.  Wile the area behind the front seats and the closed hatch is less than 6′, the passenger seat unfolds and up to 8′ lengths of lumber will fit while allowing the hatch to close. This left the sheet stock (1/4″ lauan & 3/4″ ply) to ride ratchet-strapped to my roof rack.  I learned that while Menard’s stocks most lumber in lengths from 4′ up to 16′, their inventory is often limited in lengths below 8′.  I had to work with a yard man to get 2x12x12  lumber lengths (from a totally different section of the yard) and cut them down to get my 2x12x6.  That took quite a while.  My visit was further lengthened by the need to establish a tax exempt account with Menards (which was done at an electronic kiosk next to the customer service desk).

At home, I unloaded and began constructing the bookcase and the hutch.  I started with the 2×12 end frames.  The bookcase required cutting the 2x down to length and angling the top using a power-miter box.  The bottom was profiled with a “jigsaw”.  Since the hutch end-frames were to be constructed with two widths of 2×12, I cut each half independent of the other and biscuit-joined them together after cutting.  I also biscuit-joined the counter (also 2 widths of 2×12) at the same time gluing and clamping all 3 pieces and setting them aside until cured.

Next, I cut all of the shelves for the bookcase and hutch.  The bookcase required 3, while the hutch required 2.  All of the shelves for both units are 36″.  So as to achieve a sense of accomplishment, I assembled the shelf unit, marking and pre-drilling 1/8″ holes in the end-pieces and using 3″ drywall screws to secure the shelves in their proper places.  The resulting shelves are remarkably sturdy and didn’t require the 1×4 diagonal that I had expected to need to install to keep it steady.

I proceeded to cut all of the remaining stringers for the hutch carcass, including the decorative head-board for the back of the top shelf.  I knocked off a 5:oo.

Tuesday, May 1:

I began the morning by purchasing the materials that I would need to build the door unit.  Even though I didn’t think that I would get to begin building it on that day, I wanted to make sure that I had the materials at the ready if I did, and I needed 3″ drywall Screws to finish assembly of the Hutch.

The next challenge of the day was to cut 3/4″ off the width of the 2×12 shelves and the glued up 2×12 counter.  Not having a table saw, I created a Rube Goldberg table saw

by mounting one of my circular saws under a sheet of 3/4 ply set on a pair of saw horses.  While hardly as precise as and lacking safety features that are found on a real table-saw, this contraption enabled me to perform ripping operations on stock that would be impractical on any of the hand or bench tools that I own.  Once ripped to width, I glued and stapled (well really finish nailed having apparently left my pneumatic 1/4″ crown stapler at school) the back-boards to each.

I also ripped the lower cabinet shelf support and the drawer glides and glued and screwed them to the end-panels. Once installed, the end-panels were marked, pre-drilled and all of the stringers and shelves installed with 3″ drywall screws.

I cut the cabinet shelf from 3/4″ ply and the back of the cabinet from 1/4″ lauan.  Rather than use my home-brew table-saw for this, I used a circular saw and a custom-made saw guide.  By carefully aligning the edge of the guide to the marks indicating the cutting-line, and clamping it securely to the stock I am able to make precise cuts from large sheets of plywood.  You can see from the photo above and left that a scrap of 2×12 under the stock lifts the blade above the “table” (actually some 2x stock spanning between a pair of saw horses) and prevents the blade from cutting into the surface supporting the plywood.

The functioning drawer was easily assembled as a 1×4 framed box with a 1x 4 1/2″ (true) drawer front.  The bottom of the drawer is 1/4″ lauan.

The cabinet doors were more of a challenge.  I used my router-table and specialty rail-and-stile router bits to create the frames.  The matching profiles that the pair of bits can form on the 1x create the decorative half-round edge and form a secure glue-joint.  The router bits also create a groove which holds the 1/4″ lauan panel.

That’s enough for now! Have fun!  Be safe!

SJM

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